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John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY MANUEL ROIG-FRANZIA AND PAUL FARHI IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

“Breitbart News Network, accused of being a mouthpiece for xenophobes, racists and misogynists – and thrown into the spotlight this week by the resignation of its poster boy Milo Yiannopoulos for remarks on paedophilia – is so right wing it makes Fox News look like the BBC. Now that its former boss Steve Bannon is Trump’s chief strategist, nothing stands between its extremist stance and US presidential policy.”

There is no such thing as an unbiased press, always and everywhere.

Whoever pays for a press organization plus whoever feeds it information – those are the people whose interests are served by the organization.

There are no exceptions.

If you read only The Independent or only The New York Times or only Pravda, you will, to a certainty, be misinformed on certain important matters.

Saying anything else is just pure fantasy.

So, in a sense, the critics of new press organizations like Breitbart are correct – it is biased – but they are also wrong because everything else you can possibly read is also biased.

The critics are telling a partial truth, a partial truth being by its very nature not the truth at all.

That is the fundamental reason why the whole “fake news” controversy is itself fake. It’s just a new slogan from one of several biased sources attacking others.

You know the old warning about how nothing is actually free, no matter what the advertising claims say otherwise?

Well, it is exactly the same with accurate information. No one is offering it to you free, or even at the very modest price of a daily newspaper. Just think of the great cost of higher education or superb skills training of any kind.

Information, accurate information, is costly, and not always being measured in currency. It is often measured in the hard effort needed to obtain it.

The only way a conscientious individual can try to be informed, on either politically sensitive or international policy matters, is to read, or listen to, a significant variety of sources.

You must then interpolate, taking into account what each of them is trying hide or feature, and judge roughly where truth is.

It is much what a juror must do in a criminal trial, listening to two sides make arguments in opposite directions. The juror judges everything from the tone of voice to the facial expressions to determine who may be telling truth.

Lawyers know, too, and quite famously, that eyewitnesses are often highly undependable, peoples’ perceptions and mental abilities to process them varying greatly, to say nothing of vast differences in the quality of memories. Yet jurors still must make a determination in a trial based at least in part on what they say.

As a citizen, you are in a sense a juror in a trial, the trial of the veracity of your own press and your own government.

We all understand that government does many things for which it has no mandate from the people. And we all understand that the commercial press almost always supports a government in these deceptive acts.

If you look back, you’ll have a hard time finding press organizations who worked against Tony Blair’s criminal invasion and mass murder. And the same for Lyndon Johnson when he first started the holocaust in Vietnam (eventually, about 3 million Vietnamese were slaughtered, and for nothing but embracing the wrong loyalty).

By the way, the method for getting at approximate truth would be the same even if you were getting information directly from folks like CIA or MI6, organizations which also have tremendous bias and always use their privileged positions to influence their audience of high government officials in the direction they want them to go.

So-called “big intelligence” is infamous both for offering what it knows high government officials want to hear and for using their intimate access to advocate for things they themselves desire. There is simply no known way of avoiding this inevitable set of behaviors.

That is one of the reasons why Trump does not hold these people in quite the same regard as they themselves think that they should be held. The truth is, President Kennedy felt exactly the same way about the CIA. He just didn’t have the kind of personality Trump has, one which just blurts out what he is thinking.

We have many historical examples demonstrating the fact of security service bias and dishonesty -e.g., the CIA during the height of the Cold War never got its annual estimates of the USSR even close to right. The reason: they always wanted large increases in budget for themselves and for the armed forces, and they got them.

Honest journalism? It simply does not exist. Free press? A wise man in America said many decades ago that the only way to have a free press is to own one.

 

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